Missouri-Romania partnership moving forward
By Brian Koonce
November 1, 2005
SPRINGFIELD – An International Mission Board (IMB) church planting specialist serving in Romania praised the efforts of Missouri Baptists to establish new churches in the eastern European nation.
Larry Carnes spoke to nearly 100 Missouri Baptists and “part-time missionaries” to Romania who gathered for a reunion and fellowship Oct. 25 during the Missouri Baptist Convention’s annual meeting.
“There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer,” he said, quoting General Jimmy Doolittle. “When I think of Missouri Baptists who are coming to Romania, I think of that quote. I see that strength.”
As a result of the MBC’s partnership, nearly 40 teams representing several hundred volunteers from Missouri will have traveled to Romania by year’s end. There are only 23 IMB missionaries serving the 21.6 million people of the country. At least nine church-to-church partnerships between Romanian and Missouri Baptist churches have been established in the last month alone.”
“You don’t come just to see the beautiful scenery,” Carnes said. “You come with a conviction for the people that are lost and in need of Jesus Christ and the opportunity to belong to a New Testament Church.
In addition to heart-felt conviction, he said the Missouri volunteers “perform” better on the mission field.
“I appreciate your solid, biblical, conservative theology,” Carnes said. “You have blended well with our Romanian brothers. You have brought some fresh ideas, but I appreciate the fact that we haven’t had to rebuild any lost bridges that might sometimes be burned when differences arise. I’m grateful that we have been able to walk together in this partnership. That’s not necessarily true with every partnership.”
With only one missionary per one million people, the large influx of volunteers from Missouri has been a great boon to the church-planting and discipleship efforts in a nation dominated in name at least by the Orthodox faith.
“You touch lives that we could never reach,” Carnes said. “God uses you to open doors that we could never open and do ministry that we are not able to do. You’ve had a great impact.”
Carnes said the Missouri-Romania partnership has been unique. It has been focused on building ministry relationships, rather than one-time ministry events.
“That might work for Americans, but it doesn’t work for Romanians. They are a relational people and when you come and establish a church-to-church partnership that is what is effective. You gain credibility and then you can work together and see God accomplish those goals.”